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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Stuart Pritchard

Best console gaming setups: How to put together a top notch gaming rig

Gaming, as you probably know, is something of a sizeable business. In fact, according to the stats, the global video game population is currently estimated to be around £3.24 billion and is expected to continue rising to £3.34 billion during 2024.

And it’s not all moody male teenagers and twentysomethings, either, as the average age of today’s UK ‘gamer’ is between 35 and 44, while women are rapidly catching up with men when it comes to who’s on the console.

This is, of course, excellent news for the video games industry, which was worth £7.7 billion back in 2022, and another concern for the poor old NHS which was forced to open its first National Centre for Gaming Disorders at the tail end of 2019 to welcome, as of March this year, some 745 people through its distinctly analogue doors.

If you’re new to gaming or looking to up your experience exponentially, first pick your console or choice (yes, PC gaming is also available), and then festoon it and yourself with all the perkiest peripherals known to man, woman or, erm, Quagmire Troll (Hogwarts Legacy – UK’s best selling game of 2023).

To that end, we've sought out all the very finest, most reasonably priced and slickest, stylish and sexiest bits and bobs designed to make your gaming world rock like it’s been struck by a magnitude eight mirthquake.

So, if you dream of either a gaming cave of epic proportions or are content with just a casual corner set-up, grab your main hardware weapon of choice and achieve your personal perfection with accessories that have got their own game…

Best console gaming setup at a glance:


Xbox Series X

Best for: powerful next-gen gameplay and media centre

The agonising job of choosing between a PS5 or an Xbox Series X can be either down to the toss of a coin or countless hours of indecision. However, starting here (for no particular reason) with the mighty Xbox X, welcome to hyper-fast next-gen 4K gaming at 120fps that keeps its cool, thanks to cunning Xbox Parallel Cooling Architecture, so you can enjoy seamlessly smooth gaming without the horror of overheating.

Want 12 teraflops of raw graphic processing power? Ray tracing for eye-popping visuals? 3D spatial sound for audio to meet and match the graphics? Support for gaming in Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos? Game Pass access to literally hundreds of online games both old and new? A Custom Zen 2 CPU boasting 8x cores @ 3.8GHz? 1TB of internal storage that's expandable? And ports a plenty? You’ve got it, all for £480, complete with 1x Xbox Wireless Controller. Awesome, eh? But what if you want more?

Buy now £480.00, Argos

JBL Quantum 910X Headphones

Best for: Sound superiority

Okay, the Xbox X is pretty funky, we’ve established this, and it has some pretty impressive audio abilities, but how do you assure you’re eking out all the best of that audio? By cramming your cranium into a set of these sonic stunners. Behold the Quantum 910X cans from renowned sultan of sound JBL. Designed for Xbox and even including a free one-month sub to Game Pass, the 910Xs come stuffed to bursting with all anyone could need to keep their ears in the game, including JBL QuantumSPATIAL 360, Hi-Res certified JBL QuantumSOUND Signature, head-tracking tech so you’ll always hear who’s hiding nearby, all delivered by nice big 50mm neodymium drivers tuned by JBL’s finest to deliver audio that’s utterly immersive.

Hooking up to the big box by USB-A dongle and utilising a Bluetooth 5.2 connection, the link will always be as stable as a horse’s house with lag reduced to nothing, Active Noise Cancelling stops the ever-needy outside world disturbing play for a single second, and the moving boom microphone keeps communication between you and your online army as clear as a digitally enhanced bell.

Comfortable too thanks to plumply padded ear cups and headband, if you savour your gaming sound, make the leap to Quantum.

Buy now £220.00, Amazon

Advantage Wired Controller for Xbox Series X/S with Lumectra + RGB

Best for: Battery beating enlightenment

The Xbox X comes complete with a wireless controller, but the trouble with wireless stuff is that it constantly needs recharging, and if you’ve only got one controller, that means gaming downtime. This is why a wired option will not only keep thumbs on-mission but also won’t break the bank.

Say hello to the nattily named Advantage Wired Controller for Xbox Series X or S, a seriously sharp-looking battery-free happiness-brining handpad that connects to the Xbox X over USB-C and brightens up both your game-space and gaming specifically by being imbued with – deep breath – multi-zone, customisable RGB lighting, two mappable buttons that you can change mid-game, dual rumble motors, 3-way trigger locks (and who doesn’t enjoy a 3-way?), and even a built-in IR transmitter that allows you to control compatible Lumectra Zone RGB lighting accessories, 4ft of which come with the controller in the shape of an LED strip, so you can have your surroundings become illuminated action.

Officially licensed and coming with all the feel of your usual Xbox controller, the smooth controls keep you on aim and in the action with unerring ability, while the built-in 3.5mm jack accommodates your headphones with simplicity itself.

It looks cool, it is cool and it costs next to nothing in the grand scheme of gaming, so avoid waiting between controller charges and get the Advantage and get lit.

Buy now £35.00, Amazon

LucidSound LS35X Headset

Best for: Low-price ear-excitement

So, you’ve spent the sharp end of a monkey on a console and are far too strapped to spaff any more of your hard-earned on expensive headphones, yet you deserve an Xbox X audio experience as enhanced as possible, just for less pounds than the JBL. Fear not, for LucidSound has just the thing: the LS35X.

Officially designed for Xbox, £45 may be but a fraction of the Quantum 910X, but this premium-feeling pair of cans comes with gel-cooled memory foam earpads and uses Xbox Wireless tech to connect to your box just like a controller, leaving you lead-free, which see to the comfort. But it’s also no slouch when it comes to performance, with custom-tuned audio 50mm drivers helping you to high-fidelity stereo and surround sound to ensure you remain immersed in the action, while the dual mic system, complete with detachable, flexible boom mic, LED mic mute indicator and mic monitoring of your own voice frees you up for top team banter in which not a single witticism is lost.

On-ear cup controls allow for easy adjustment of volume and balance, making the LucidSound LS35X as easy to operate in the heat of battle as it is to wear for hours on end without fear of fatigue.

A true bargain and excellent audio enhancement way beyond non-Xbox orientated headphones, this is £45 exceptionally well spent.

Buy now £44.99, Amazon

GameSir X2 Pro Mobile Gaming Controller for Android Type-C

Best for: Xbox on the move

Want to take your Xbox experience on the go but don’t want to lump it around searching for public power outlets? Then expand your gamiverse with the GameSir X2 Pro controller for Android phones. Officially licenced by Xbox, this marvellous bit of kit pulls open to accept your phone via USB port, then clamps firmly around it, converting said smartphone into an Xbox-quality mobile gaming controller on the go!

Coming with 1-month of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, after a bit of initial set-up, you’re away, accessing all your favourite titles on the bus, at the dentist, or, well, literally anywhere you darn well fancy.

Dual thumb sticks and ABXY buttons give the real Xbox experience, while buttons can be customised to suit your style on each and every game.

Supporting pretty much all when it comes to cloud gaming services, such as Xbox Cloud Gaming (Beta), Stadia, NVIDIA GeForce Now and Amazon Luna, you’re not going to be short of options while out and about, plus, of course, you can remotely play your own Xbox at home too.

A modern marvel of the mobile gaming world, why restrict play to private?

Buy now £79.99, Amazon

Venom Twin Charging Dock

Best for: Double the pleasure

So, earlier I offered up the wired controller from Advantage as an excellent alternative to the rechargeable option that may abruptly end play when the battery inevitably demands charging attention. Well, now here is another option: the Twin Charging Dock from Venom.

It’s a slick-looking if simple enough idea – have two wireless controls and keep them docked on this when not in use. Featuring 2x 850Mah rechargeable battery packs, now you can guarantee power in the palm of your hands, swiftly juiced up and each providing up to 15 hours of gameplay off one full charge.

Designed, as you can see, to fit nicely with the Xbox’s strong look and available in a range of colours, LED displays upfront show power levels, a detachable 2m USB cable allows for flexible placement, while, handily, an additional rear USB port lets you connect tother power-hungry kits.

An obvious addition to any gaming set-up, at only £20 the Venom becomes a must-have.

Buy now £20.00, Amazon

Noblechairs Hero St Stormtrooper

Best for: The throne of your Xbox Empire

The Hero St Stormtrooper from Noblechairs is as good for an Xbox X as it is for a PS5. Stunning for Star Wars fans, not only does it look striking, but it’s also designed with your spine in mind, featuring adjustable lumbar support, 4D armrests to assure proper positioning, a memory foam headrest and a reclining mechanism that takes it to 125 degrees.

So, cool, comfortable and created to keep your limbs aligned even over excessive bouts of play, in all honesty, I plumped for this Storming option from Noblechairs’ wide range of seat-supporters as I’m a colossal Star Wars nerd myself (I even named my son Lucas), so I should probably point out that they also do equally awesome Darth Vader and Boba Fett themed options, should you fear the influence of the Stormtrooper will make you miss the target more often than hit it.

Buy now £430.00, Noblechairs

Trust Gaming GXT 265 Cintar

Best for: Stunning sound support

We’ve looked at two sets of headphones ideal for Xbox X here, but what I’ve utterly neglected to cover is how to hang them. After all, when you’ve got cans of such calibre, you don’t want to leave them casually cast aside where someone might sit on them. No, instead, ensure everyone knows where they are by displaying them proudly on a highly illuminating headphone stand, the way it should be.

In this case, I offer you the sexy GXT 265 Cintar from Trust Gaming, a stand that not only gives the perfect place to position your ear gear when out of action, but also comes with LED RGB illumination to bathe your battle station in lush light and also comes fitted with 2x USB-A ports so you can add other peripherals to the power party.

With a weighted design and non-slip base, your headphones will always be in sturdy hands, so even if the home of your gaming hardware is prone to visitations from children or animals, your audio excellence will never get accidentally knocked over.

Buy now £22.00, Amazon


Sony PS5 Slim

Best for: Space-saving next-gen gaming

I’ve been a PlayStation man most of my life, in fact, over the course of my countless years covering consumer tech, I’ve reviewed (in order of appearance) the PS One, the PS2, the PS4 and the PS4 for various publications. Now, the original PS5 passed me by due to some cleric error, I’m sure, but now I’ve set my sights on the new PS5 Slim; and it’s a beauty.

Considerably lighter and slightly less of a chunky monkey than the original PS5, the Slim now upgrades storage to 1TB to match the Xbox Series X, but that’s pretty much where the changes end. So, under the hood sits a Custom AMD Zen 2, 8-core/16 threads, 3.5GHz CPU, AMD RDNA 2, 10.3 teraflops, 2.23GHz GPU, 16GB of RAM and, in the disc-taking edition which I favour, an Ultra HD Blu-ray player (digital only edition also available), so everything even the most demanding next-gen gamer could command to indulge in 4K fun at up to 120fps, with HDR TV support for those with, well, HDR TVs, and backwards compatibility with over 4000 PS4 games.

Coming with 1x DualSense wireless controller, you’ll probably want to expand that controller empire to 2x in order to play nice with others, but I’ll come back to that in a moment.

The slender and slick alternative to the Xbox, featuring a physical design that has far more flair, the PS5 Slim offers an awful lot of gaming goodness. But can the experience be enhanced with the purchase of peripherals? What a silly question…

Buy now £480.00, Currys

Trust Gaming GXT 498W Forta

Best for: Officially licenced audio

Licenced and dripping with all the console’s design cues, here for your head is a set of cool cans that work as the perfect PS5 companion. As comfortable as a gentle hug on the lugs thanks to a thickly padded headband and moveable earcups, lovely large, powerful 50mm drivers put you right in the middle of the audio action, while the flexible mic comes complete with a pop filter to keep your communication channel clear.

Working solely wired, a generous 1.2m cable connects to your DualSense controller via 3.5mm jack to bring glorious union to visuals and audio, completing the gaming immersion experience with stunning 3D sound.

What’s more, created to please all the gaming Gretas out there, the GXT 498W Forta is constructed from 35 per cent recycled plastics, so a saviour of both sound and sphere.

A steal at £40, for those finding PS’s own headset option (below) rather unaffordable, finds all you need in Forta.

Buy now £40.00, Amazon

BACKBONE One PlayStation Edition

Best for: The PS5 experience anywhere

Taking all your premium PS5 action on the road with you, the undeniably sexy new BACKBONE One PS Edition fits snuggly around most Android phones, plus iPhone 15, and is instantly recognised as a portable DualSense by the PS Remote Play App. From that point, you’ll have all your favourite PS4 and PS5 titles available at your fingertips no matter where you are.

Looking every penny like the PS5 thanks to the distinctive white and black livery and controls, the analogue triggers, tactile buttons, and clickable thumbsticks make the One a pure PS5 experience, while the 3.5mm audio jack means you can plug in your headphones of choice to complete the cool gaming circle.

An absolute essential for any PS5 obsessive looking for go-anywhere gaming, the BACKBONE One PS Edition simply excels.

Buy now £100.00, Amazon

Boulies Elite 2024

Best for: Posture-perfect play

When it comes to superior seating for work, rest and – most importantly – play, you can’t go wrong with Boulies. So, when it comes to Boulies’ Gaming chairs there’s no point in messing around – this is the seat you’ll be relying on to keep you comfortably contained for endless hours, after all – so I’ve headed straight for the Elite Series.

Available in Ultraflex PU or water-repellent fabric, depending on how messy you might be, the Elite comes in black, blue or white finishes (white chosen here to match the PS5), the elegant design complements your kit, and gives you an absolutely ergonomic fit, fusing aluminium alloy construction with 4D armrests, a backrest that mimics the curvature of the spine, with headrest and lumbar pillows included to guarantee the highest degree of personalisation.

With both reclining and multi-tilt mechanisms, the perfect position for any genre of game is an adjustment away, so your posture will be protected no matter what. The seat is also height adjustable and able to swivel through 360 degrees. So, get your bum in a Boulies and gaming glory is guaranteed.

Buy now £290.00, Boulies

Venom PS5 Controller Twin Docking Station

Best for: Doubling up and doubling down

While the PS5 Slim comes with one wireless pad, there's no denying that two is company and if you want to play with others in person or just have a spare charged and ready to go. But even then, how do you ensure both controllers will be powered whenever you pick them up? With the Venom PS5 Controller Twin Docking Station, of course!

Featuring a 1m detachable charging lead, the drop-in design means you can keep your play pads pumped full of power at all times, while an extra USB output also means you can charge an additional device.

A handy LED display on the front shows how much juice each handset has, and it even comes in black, white and ‘Cosmic Red’ to match your controllers.

Buy now £10.00, Amazon

Corsair ST100

Best for: Hot headphone hanging

Hang your gaming headphones with pride between sessions with the stunning ST100 stand from Corsair. Featuring premium aluminium construction, not only does this cans carrier come with customisable RGB lights to add to the coolness, but it also offers full-range stereo or 7.1 surround sound for an immersive, multi-channel audio experience via a 3.5mm input, while dual USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-A Ports provide improved charging power and faster data speeds for your headset and other smart stuff.

With a rubberised base that keeps the whole shebang stable, the Corsair ST100 keeps your headphones safe from any and all sudden gravity-induced shocks.

Buy now £60.00, Amazon

PlayStation Pulse Elite

Best for: Keeping it in the family

Okay, the official PS5 headphones from PS itself will not be available until February 2024, but they are available for pre-order now and it would be remiss of me not to flag them up.

Firstly, they look sublime and quite unlike any other gaming cans currently on the market. Secondly, they come packing planar magnetic drivers and a lossless and lightning-fast PlayStation Link wireless connection for sound that’s second to none.

What’s more, the fully Pulse Elite’s retractable microphone features AI-enhanced noise rejection for crystal clear comms, and 30 hours of battery life will see you happy all day long.

Okay, pricey at £130, especially compared with the fine Trust GXT 498W Forta I messed about with earlier, but the Pulse spec sounds pretty sensational, so let’s see what February brings…

Buy now £130.00, Amazon

Razer Wolverine V2 Pro

Best for: Complete control

When it comes to selecting a second controller for your PS5, let’s face it, if money was no object, it would be this: the Wolverine V2 Pro from Razer. Created with the PS5 firmly in its sights, first of all, just look at it; it’s a thing of beauty – all moody dark lines, like a min Batman. Then there’s the tech: Razer HyperSpeed Wireless for an unshakable, superspeed connection; Razer Mecha-Tactile Action Buttons for the ultimate in responsive gameplay; and an 8-Way Microswitch D-Pad for absolute precision.

Upping the game both metaphorically and actually, chuck in Razer Chroma lighting and, while this may be a decidedly luxury addition to your game domain, by the gods of gameplay, it’s worth it!

Buy now £250.00, Razer

For All

LeadJoy VX2 AimBox

Best for: Expanding your options

Need more USB ports for your army of peripherals? Then simply snap up the LeadJoy VX2 AimBox and see one become three before your very eyes. Compatible with all console comers, add your mouse and keyboard with absolute ease and pass your wired headphones via the 3.5mm audio port.

Solidly built with an internal counterweight to keep it in place, when it comes to controllers, the converter and vLead app allows you to easily adjust and set game button values and/or mouse properties to match your needs and give even more in-game control.

A very handy addition to any gaming set-up, don’t live with limited USB access, line yourself up with a LeadJoy.

Buy now £50.00, Amazon

Logitech Playseat Challenge X

Best for: Brum brumming around

I’ve hardly touched on racing in this review round-up, which is odd considering just how much I enjoy hurtling around virtual tracks, often making my own tyre-screeching sounds and talking a bit like one of those blokes from the show previously known as Top Gear. However, whilst I always favour a proper gaming chair for my racing endeavours, I’ve never gone so far as investing in a true racing seat set-up… which was my long-term mistake.

Yes, in the course of finding fodder for this article, I was offered the chance to take the Logitech G Edition Playseat Challenge X for a test drive and I haven’t looked back (not even to reverse) since.

Lightweight and a breeze to assemble and disassemble (vital where space comes at a premium), the Challenge X adjusts to suit both your sitting and the sitting of the Logitech wheel and pedals and comes made from a special breathable material that keeps you comfy even during endurance racing.

Open access means you won’t have difficulty climbing in and out, helping those racers who, oddly, like to start each race with a Le Mans Start, as it used to be known.

An accessory of excellence for home racers of all abilities, the Logitech Playseat Challenge X is a fast track to racing game glory.

Buy now £259.00, Logitech

Canyon Gaming TWS DoubleBee Earbuds

Best for: Audio excellence on the go

Gaming on your phone (or, better, with the GameSir or Backbone covered earlier) can have its limitations, but sound doesn’t have to be one of them. Yes, you can carry cans around with you, but that’s not always convenient, so why not throw some folding stuff at earbuds designed specifically with your gaming needs front and centre?

I speak right now of the DoubleBee from Canyon Gaming, true wireless earphones created to deliver a thoroughly immersive audio experience when you’re out and about. Lag-free, here you’ll delight in a low latency of just 45ms (gaming mode), so your ears won’t miss a thing whether listening out for nearby enemy movement or trying to discern what direction those bullets are coming from.

Boasting Bluetooth 5.3, the connection is as stable as it gets, so you can keep moving without worrying about drop-out, and with a battery life of up to 4 hours and up to 37.5 hours with the cool charging case, power is assured wherever you wander.

Wait, what? You’ve had enough gaming for the day? Then switch to Music mode and chill to your tunes instead.

Striking looking too, the DoubleBee (as the name might have given away) has a design inspired by the bumblebee, which is odd but also oddly compelling.

True wireless gaming audio available al fresco, give 'em a buzz.

Buy now £30.00, Amazon

Trust Gaming GXT 110W Felox Wireless

Best for: Mousing you can Trust in

Get better control over your console and your online/on-screen antics with the addition of a gaming mouse. This is the GXT 11X Felox mouse from Trust Gaming, and it’s an eminently affordable way to add extra control to your console.

Less than 20 quid and operating wire-free due to a speedy and sturdy 2.4GHz connection, the Felox battery is good for up to 80 hours of playtime, while the adjustable speed of between 800-4800 DPI will guarantee you get the most out of your gaming regardless of the genre.

Using an optical sensor to avoid all the old-fashioned faff of ball-based mice, the Felox oozes precision in operation, while some six buttons lend total control. To bring further light to your life, four multicolour LED lighting options let you personalise to suit your own distinctive style.

Available in ‘Booster Black’ or ‘Winning White’ to match or contrast your console (also works with PC, obviously), the only question remaining now is: why would you not?

Buy now £18.00, Amazon

Denon AVR-X2800H

Best for: Ultimate home sound

What’s this I’ve thrown into the mix? An AV Receiver? Yes, the AVR-X2800H to be precise, from AV overlord Denon. Why? Well, not only is this chunk of top-end high-performance a discrete 7-channel amplifier that brings absolute power (95W per channel) and control to movies, the enhanced HDMI interface also makes it a dream date for gaming, with support for 4K/120Hz and VRR (Variable Refresh Rate), delivering stunning resolution and clarity, while Quick Frame Transport (QFT) and Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM) leave lag weeping in the corner.

Back to the sound, used in conjunction with speakers, immersive 3D audio is available to your gaming ears, filling the room with the kind of precise and perfect surround sound that will make you feel like your online squad/enemies are standing right next to you.

With big sound to complement big screens and big games, the Denon AVR-X2800H brings next-level gaming audio home with a bang.

Buy now £549.00, Richer Sounds

Meta Quest 3

Best for: Joining the mind-blowing metaverse

No, not a PS5 and now an Xbox Series X, but rather the very latest entry point into the world of VR gaming, the Meta Quest 3; and what an entry point it is too as having been hands-on and head-in with the device, I can quite honestly and emphatically say that I’m a complete and utter convert.

Currently costing about the same as the console twins, what you get in the box is the headset with the standard pre-installed facial interface, 2x Touch Plus controllers and power gubbins, so all quite simple and straightforward. Then you download the Meta Quest app on your phone, install some apps, slip on the headset and slip seamlessly into the virtual world.

Using mixed reality, you can let the Quest 3 measure and map the movable space within the room or do it manually, then bring up the virtual control panel to select games, TV streaming channels or, well, all manner of marvellous things to get started. Naturally, I waded straight in with some battle royales.

Games cost anything from free to around £30 for heavy hitters like Resident Evil and The Walking Dead, or up to £45 for stunning new stuff like Asgard’s Wrath 2. All of which are – and I can’t stress this enough – utterly thrilling to play.

With an adjustable head-strap, it’s simple to find a comfortable fit, and the ergonomic controls are intuitive to use.

While I’ll never abandon console or PC play, the Meta Quest 3 has dazzled me and thoroughly turned my head with its truly immersive play, sucking me in with its irresistible succubus charms.

Finally, I should probably mention that, yes, you can do much more than just play games with the Meta Quest 3, with other equally amazing work and entertainment options available.

Buy now £480.00, Amazon

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